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Osaka hoping good vibes help her Silicon Valley Classic return

Naomi Osaka said Monday she is feeling positive and hoping her good vibe continues as she makes a return from an Achilles injury at her first tournament since the French Open in May.
The former world No. 1 is a wild card entrant at the Silicon Valley Classic this week, having seen her singles ranking fall to 41st in the world. She remains the highest-ranked Japanese in women's singles, 59 spots ahead of Misaki Doi, but has faded from her once dominant position in the game.
"I'm hoping to see if that (good) feeling stays," she told reporters at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, which is hosting the tournament.
After winning a Grand Slam title in four consecutive seasons from 2018, Osaka looked to be on a pathway to a long-term reign over women's tennis. Then, she was forced to put her career on hold to take a mental health break and parted ways with management company IMG to launch her own sports agency.
Now at the age of 24, Osaka is looking to re-establish her career with a different attitude. She recently launched a media company with NBA star LeBron James called Hana Kuma.
Last month, she split with Wim Fissette, who coached her to her two most recent Grand Slam titles -- the 2020 U.S. Open and 2021 Australian Open.
"He's an amazing coach and we didn't part on bad terms. I felt like I needed a different energy. He's an ambitious guy and I'm sure he would have wanted to go to Wimbledon, so it was kind of like two different mindsets," said Osaka.
Osaka's father, Leonard Francois, is currently her stand-in coach.
"He doesn't talk a lot, so I have to figure things out myself. He makes me think outside the box," she said.
"Whenever I think something is really bad, he makes me realize things are much more positive than they seem. When I'm stressed out, he starts dancing to make me feel better. So, it's nice to have him around and to remember the times when I was a kid."
Osaka was just 16 when she made her debut at the tournament in San Jose in 2014, then known as the Bank of the West Classic.
Ranked 406th in the world at the time, she made a splash by downing then top-20 player Sam Stosur of Australia in the round of 32 before going out to German Andrea Petkovic in the final 16.
"I remember being overwhelmed. It was my first time going to a press conference. It was a learning experience," she said.
Osaka's first match this week is against Chinese 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen on Tuesday afternoon. The two have never played each other on tour.
"I'd just like to have fun," Osaka said.
The Aug. 1-7 Silicon Valley Classic is a WTA 500 hard-court tournament featuring 28 singles players and 16 doubles teams in the main draw.


© KYODO
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